Attacking Reason is Bad Theology

Chesterton in 1905

My friend, crime novelist James Scott Bell, author of Try Dying and Try Fear, brought to my attention a passage from a G. K. Chesterton story, “The Blue Cross,” featuring Chesterton’s famed priest-sleuth Father Brown. In the story, Father Brown has identified the culprit as a fake priest named Flambeau.

When Flambeau demands to know how Father Brown outsmarted him, Father Brown replies: “Oh, by being a celibate simpleton, I suppose. . . . Has it never struck you that a man who does next to nothing but hear men’s real sins is not likely to be wholly unaware of human evil? But, as a matter of fact, another part of my trade, too, made me sure you weren’t a priest.”“What?” the dumbfounded thief asks.

“You attacked reason,” Father Brown repies. “It’s bad theology.”

It’s true. We find truth—whether scientific truth or theological truth—through reason and evidence. Those who attack reason, or argue unreasonably, have stopped seeking the truth.